An Independence city official will lead the region’s main planning agency for the next two years, and he has in mind at least one new problem to tackle.

An Independence city official will lead the region’s main planning agency for the next two years, and he has in mind at least one new problem to tackle.

“Thank you for your confidence in me,” Council Member Jim Schultz told the board of the Mid-America Regional Council on Tuesday as he became the chairman of the group’s board of directors.

The agency, with headquarters in Kansas City, covers dozens of cities in the nine-county metro area. It tracks the regional economy,

it helps coordinate and direct state and federal funding to local transportation projects, it promotes environment issues such as air quality and solid-waste management, and it presents a regionwide view in Washington, D.C., among other things.

Schultz said Tuesday he’s going to have the agency take up a new challenge as well.

“We’re going to look at homelessness as a region,” he said, adding that the group will ask cities for their ideas and concerns and then look at what resources are available.

“It’s a big challenge,” he said.

Schultz said Independence gets a good deal out of his involvement with MARC. (Mayor Don Reimal also is on the board.)

“Well, you get to be part of the planning process, which is so important,” Schultz said. “We have a seat at the table.”

Schultz succeeds Tom Cooley, a Unified Government commissioner in Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan. Former Independence Mayor Barbara Potts and former Council Member Bill McDonald – both of whom attended Tuesday’s meeting – also are former MARC chairmen.